Thanks for stopping by. This blog features a collection of posts related to my work in, and thoughts about, strategic communication and academe as well as a handful of stories about my personal life. Any views expressed on this site are mine and likely do not reflect those of Indiana University. But honestly, there’s nothing all that controversial here, so don’t get your hopes up.
I believe that there are two tenets shaping the contemporary strategic communication industry: The first is a recognition that the human psyche—and its associated drives, desires, and biases—continues to operate through an ancient architecture that directs information processing, attitude formation, and behavior. The second is that the means by which strategic messages are best delivered are rapidly evolving. Consequently, the most influential strategic messages tend to be those which are informed by behavioral insights and disseminated through audience-appropriate channels and sources.
The proliferation of books, articles, blogs, and social media commentary related to insights and strategic communication can make connecting principles of behavioral research to strategic communication practice seem like an impossible task, but I’ve found the following frameworks to be highly useful throughout my academic and applied work:
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Originally developed to understand what drives people to act in particular ways, Maslow has become foundational to both psychologists and rhetoricians alike. Ernest Dichter, widely credited as the first practitioner to apply principles of psychoanalysis to advertising, noted that humans are driven by the desires of personal growthand self-actualization, which is really just a way of thinking about moving from the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy toward the top.
- Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion
Psychologist Robert Cialdini’s influential work on persuasion identifies six ways in which people can be influenced (i.e., consistency, reciprocity, authority, scarcity, social proof, and liking). Appropriately applying some combination of these principles to strategic communication is one of the best ways of increasing the probability of a communicator’s success.
- Kenrick and Griskevicius’s Seven Sub-Selves
Douglas Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius’s application of evolutionary psychology to behavioral economics is particularly useful to understanding some common cognitive biases as well as the importance of priming. As these authors point out, seemingly irrational behavior (e.g., loss aversion, risk taking, et al.) can oftentimes be explained by considering the evolutionary goals of our species (i.e., self-protection, disease avoidance, alliance building, status building, mate acquisition, mate retention and care of kin). Those evolutionary goals can also be used to inform the development of both strategic plans and tactical messages for certain products and services.
Discussing and learning about strategic communication is near the top of my list of favorite things to do, so please don’t hesitate to connect with me if you’d like to chat or have a book to recommend. If you’re looking for someone to help you move, answer questions about yoga, or invest in your pyramid scheme, I’m not your guy.